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Coincidence: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported today on plans by state Sen. Jimmy Hickey to push a contract with a consultant who’ll come up with ways to help the flagging Arkansas lottery. (Count me as skeptical about Hickey’s good intentions. He’s no lottery fan.)

But here’s a winner from the New York Times: A report on the use of lottery gimmicks by savings institutions such as credit unions to encourage people to save by offering lottery drawings on deposits. 

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They offer what are known as prize-linked savings accounts, which essentially treat every deposit as a ticket in a prizewinning raffle. The idea is to offer the thrill of gambling without the risk. Even perennial losers keep their savings.

These accounts have won support from a rare combination of liberal poverty advocates and conservatives who like the private market-based approach and emphasis on personal responsibility. In Congress, bills to modify federal banking laws and permit more financial institutions to offer prize-linked accounts have Republican and Democratic co-sponsors. And several states, including Indiana, Connecticut and New York, have modified their banking laws to allow credit unions to offer such programs.

Everybody wins. Losers still have savings, earning a speck of interest at today’s rates.